States/Countries -> Hyderabad (1724 - 1948)      

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  Mughal Empire (1526-1858)
Hyderabad (1724 - 1948)
succeeded by
  India (1950 - )

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This article is about the princely state in British India ruled by the Nizam from 1803 to 1948. For other uses, see Hyderabad (disambiguation).
State of Hyderabad
ریاست حیدرآباد
హైదరాబాద్ రాష్ట్రం
Princely state of British India (1803–1947)
Unrecognized state (1947–1948)


Flag Coat of arms
Hyderabad (dark green) and Berar Province not a part of Hyderabad State but also the Nizam's Dominion between 1853 and 1903 (light green).
Capital Hyderabad
Languages Dakhini, Marathi, Telugu, Persian, Kannada
Religion Hinduism, Islam
Government Princely State (1803–1948)
Province of the Dominion of India (1948–1950)
State of the Republic of India (1950–1956)
 -  1720–48 Qamaruddin Khan (first)
 -  1911–48 Osman Ali Khan (last)
Prime Minister
 -  1724–1730 Iwaz Khan (first)
 -  1947–1948 Mir Laiq Ali (last)
 -  Established 1803
 -  Telangana Rebellion 1946
 -  Accession in India 18 September 1948
 -  Division 1 November 1956
Area 215,339 km² (83,143 sq mi)
Currency Hyderabadi rupee

Hyderābād State About this sound pronunciation  was an Indian princely state located in the south-central region of India, and was ruled, from 1724 until 1948, by a hereditary Nizam. The capital city was Hyderabad.

The Asaf Jahi Dynasty was a dynasty of Turkic origin from the region around Samarkand in modern-day Uzbekistan, who came to India in the late 17th century, and became employees of the Mughal Empire. The region became part of the Mughal Empire in the 1680s. When the empire began to weaken in the 18th century, Asif Jah defeated a rival Mughal governor's attempt to seize control of the empire's southern provinces, declaring himself Nizam-al-Mulk of Hyderabad in 1724. The Mughal emperor, under renewed attack from the Marathas, was unable to prevent it.

Following the decline of the Mughal power, India saw the rise of Maratha Empire, Nizam himself saw many invasions by the Marathas. Some of the major battles fought between Marathas and Nizam include the Battle of Rakshasbhuvan, the Battle of Palkhed and the Battle of Kharda, all of which resulted in Maratha victory and suzerainty over the territory of Nizam and collection of tributary by the Marathas.[1][2]

In 1798 Hyderabad became a princely state under the British East India Company's suzerainty. By a subsidiary alliance it had ceded to the British East India company the control of its external affairs. In 1903 the Berar region of the state was separated and merged into the Central Provinces of British India, to form the Central Provinces and Berar.

In 1947, at the time of the partition of India, British offered the various princely states in the sub-continent the option of acceding to either India or Pakistan, or staying on as an independent state.

At the time of the partition of India, the State of Hyderabad was the largest of all princely states in India. It covered 82,698 square miles (214,190 km2) of fairly homogenous territory and comprised a population of roughly 16.34 million people (as per the 1941 census) of which a majority (85%) was Hindu. Hyderabad State had its own army, airline, telecommunication system, railway network, postal system, currency and radio broadcasting service.

Nizam decided to keep Hyderabad independent. The leaders of the new Union of India however, were wary of having an independent - and possibly hostile - state in the heart of their new country. Most of the other 565 princely states had already acceded to India or to Pakistan voluntarily. The Indian government was therefore determined to annex Hyderabad into the Indian Union, by force if necessary.

In September 1948, India launched a military operation named Operation Polo, led by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, then Minister of Home Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of India. The Indian Armed Forces invaded the State of Hyderabad and overthrew Nizam.[3][4]

Seven Nizams had ruled Hyderabad State for two centuries until the Indian conquest of Hyderabad in 1948 brought about the end of the dynasty. The Asaf Jahi rulers were great patrons of literature, art, architecture, culture, jewellery, and rich food. The Nizams patronized Persian art, Persian Architecture, and Persian culture, which became central to the Hyderabadi Muslim identity. They also introduced electricity, developed the railways and the roads, air communications, irrigation and reservoirs. The last Nizam was well known for his huge wealth and jewelry collection; he had been the richest man in the world until the end of his reign.[5] Indeed, all major public buildings in Hyderabad City were built during his reign, while the British Raj was supreme. He pushed education, science, and the establishment of Osmania University.

Early history[edit]

The Nizam of Hyderabad was earlier the Mughal Viceroy of the Deccan. The Asaf Jahi was a dynasty of Turkic origin from the region around Samarkand in modern-day Uzbekistan, who came to India in the late 17th century, and became employees of the Mughal Empire. As the Mughals were great patron of Persian culture, language, literature: the family found a ready patronage. However, with the decline of the Mughals the Deccan attained independence, though the first Nizam continued to owe allegiance to the Mughal Emperor. The Deccan territories were thus the last survivors of the Mughal empire, along with the Princely state of Awadh (in North India). These territories soon came to be known as the 'Nizam's Dominions', which (in the year 1760) included areas from south of Maharashtra to the southern end of Tamil Nadu, encompassing vast territories in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana. The Nawab of the Carnatic, who accepted the suzerainty of the Nizam, ruled southern territories that are now part of Tamil Nadu and southern Andhra Pradesh. However, Hyder Ali administered the regions in and around Mysore and did not owe any allegiance to the Nizam.

With the Mughal empire in disarray, this was a time when the French and British were competing for supremacy in the Indian sub-continent. The French exercised considerable influence in the Deccan from their stronghold of Pondicherry. In fact, the Nizam had a French regent stationed at Hyderabad in the later years of the 18th century as an important adviser, and there remains to this day a street of Hyderabad city named Troop Bazaar, which recalls where the French originally had their military barracks. The Nizam's dominions were at their greatest territorial extent at the time of the first Nizam, Nizam-ul-mulk, Asaf Jah-I. However, after his death there arose a succession struggle, with the British and French supporting competing factions. This resulted in a period of internal instability as two Nizams (Nasir Jung and Muzaffar Jung) ruled in rapid succession, each being assassinated by a rival faction. The combined duration of their rule was just four years. The fourth Nizam, Mir Ali Salabat Jung, came to the throne on French instigation and his rule prevailed for 12 years. This period marked the height of French influence in the Nizam's dominions.

Mir Ali Salabat Jung's successor was Nizam Ali Khan Asaf Jah II, who gained the territories of Aurangabad, Bidar and Sholapur in various battles with the Marathas. Though Asaf Jah-II ruled for over 50 years, the Nizam's dominions lost considerable power and more importantly, land to both the British and the French due to infighting and debts owed to the foreign powers. He ceded the territory of Northern Circars (present day Coastal Andhra region of the state of Andhra Pradesh) to the French as a gift 'for perpetuity', while British, French and Hyder Ali annexed the Carnatic regions. The Nizam was criticized for failing to form an alliance with Hyder Ali of the Kingdom of Mysore, a move which could have countered the increasing influence of the British in the Deccan. In this time, with the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo, the British also replaced the French as the supreme colonial power in the Indian sub-continent. The British also fought a war with Mysore, which increased its clout in the Deccan and, by 1800, the Nizam's dominions came into a state of near-suzerainty under the British.

During the British Raj[edit]

See also: Northern Circars
Main street of Hyderabad with Charminar, 1890

By 1801, the Nizam's dominion assumed the shape it is now remembered for: that of a landlocked princely state with territories in central Deccan, bounded on all sides by British India, whereas 150 years earlier it had considerable coastline on the Bay of Bengal.

During the Mutiny of 1857, Salar Jung chose to side with the British, thereby earning the title of 'Faithful Ally' for Hyderabad. This action causes some regret among modern patriots, because had the Nizam's dominions sided with the rebel forces, the British would have been greatly weakened. Hyderabad was as important to the South of India as Delhi was to the North. However, this did not happen and Hyderabad was one of several independent kingdoms of India to side with the British. In 1857, when the rule of the East India Company came to an end and British India came under the direct rule of the Crown, Hyderabad continued to be one of the most important of the princely states. Twenty years later, Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India.

The senior-most (23-gun) salute state during the period of British India, Hyderabad was an 82,000 square mile (212,000 km²) region in the Deccan, ruled by the head of the Asif Jahi dynasty, who had the title of Nizam and on whom was bestowed the style of "His Exalted Highness" by the British. Development within the state of Hyderabad grew as Salar Jung and the Nizams founded schools, colleges, madrasas and a university that imparted education in Urdu. Inspired by the elite and prestigious Indian Civil Service, the Nizam founded the Hyderabad Civil Service. The pace with which the last Nizam, Osman Ali Khan, amassed wealth made him one of the world's richest men in the 1930s.[6] Carrying a gift, called Nazrana, in accordance with one's net worth while meeting the Nizam, was a de facto necessity.

Industries in Hyderabad under the Nizams[edit]

Various major industries emerged in various parts of the State of Hyderabad before its incorporation into the Union of India, especially during the first half of the twentieth century. Hyderabad city had a separate powerplant for electricity. However, the Nizams focused industrial development on the region of Sanathnagar, housing a number of industries there with transportation facilities by both road and rail.[7]

Industries in pre-Independence Hyderabad
Company Year
Singareni Collieries 1921
Nizam Sugar Factory 1937
Allwyn Metal Works 1942
Praga Tools 1943
Sirsilk 1946
Hyderabad Asbestos (HIL Ltd.) 1946
Karkhana Zinda Tilismat 1920
Charminar Cigarette 1925
Vazir Sultan Tobacco Company 1930
Azam Jahi Mills Warangal 1934
Deccan Airways Limited 1945


The Imperial Bank of India opened a branch in Hyderabad in 1868, and a second branch in Secunderabad in 1906. Central Bank of India opened its branch in Hyderabad in 1918 and a second branch in Secunderabad in 1925.

Until 1948, Gulbarga district, now part of Karnataka state, was part of Hyderabad state. Saraswati Bank, established in Gulbarga in 1918, had a branch in Hyderabad. The Gulbarga Banking Company, established in 1930, however, did not.

In 1935 Raja Pannalal Pitti founded the Mercantile Bank of Hyderabad.

In 1942 the Nizam established Hyderabad State Bank to conduct treasury operations for the state government, and other banking. In 1947 there was a proposal that Hyderabad State Bank would be allowed to establish a branch in Karachi, and that as a quid-pro-quo Habib Bank would be allowed to establish a branch in Hyderabad. Partition and Operation Polo, the Indian invasion of Hyderabad that annexed Hyderabad to India, put an end to this idea. Then in 1952-53, Hyderabad State Bank acquired Mercantile Bank. Next, in 1956 State Bank of India took over Hyderabad State Bank, which in 1959 became State Bank of Hyderabad, a subsidiary bank of State Bank of India.

After Indian Independence (1947–48)[edit]

Main article: Operation Polo

In 1947 India gained independence and Pakistan came into existence; the British left the local rulers of the princely states the choice of whether to join one or the other, or to remain independent. On June 11, 1947, the Nizam issued a declaration to the effect that he had decided not to participate in the Constituent Assembly of either Pakistan or India.

On 9 July 1947, in a letter to the Crown Representative, the Nizam requested that Hyderabad be accorded dominion status. This was, however, problematical. Given the Nizam's determination not to join India, this would leave Hyderabad as an independent country entirely surrounded by the new Union of India. The Nizam was a Muslim but the Hindus outnumbered the Muslims by about eight to one in the State.[8]

Keeping in mind Hyderabad's geographical position and the existence of a Hindu majority in his state, and countering India's insistence on accession, pending a settlement the Nizam signed a Stand-still Agreement with India on 29 November 1947. The Agreement was to remain in force for a period of one year. The Agreement provided that disputes arising out of it could be referred to the arbitration of two arbitrators, one appointed by each of the parties, and an umpire appointed by those arbitrators.

The Nizam was in a weak position as his army numbered only 24,000 men, of whom only some 6,000 were fully trained and equipped.[9] The Indian government refused to accept Hyderabad's independence and prepared to carry out a so-called "Hyderabad Police Action" against the Nizam.

On 21 August 1948, the Secretary-General of the Hyderabad Department of External Affairs requested the President of the United Nations's Security Council, under Article 35(2) of the United Nations Charter, to consider the "grave dispute, which, unless settled in accordance with international law and justice, is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security."[10]

On 4 September the Prime Minister of Hyderabad Mir Laiq Ali announced to the Hyderabad Assembly that a delegation was about to leave for Lake Success, headed by Moin Nawaz Jung.[11] The Nizam also appealed, without success, to the British Labour Government and to the King for assistance, to fulfill their obligations and promises to Hyderabad by "immediate intervention". Hyderabad only had the support of Winston Churchill and the British Conservatives.[12]

General El Edroos (at right) offers his surrender of the Hyderabad State Forces to Major General (later General and Army Chief) Joyanto Nath Chaudhuri at Secunderabad.

At 4 a.m. on 13 September 1948, India's Hyderabad Campaign, code-named "Operation Polo" by the Indian Army, began. Indian troops invaded Hyderabad from all points of the compass. On 13 September 1948, the Secretary-General of the Hyderabad Department of External Affairs in a cablegram informed the United Nations Security Council that Hyderabad was being invaded by Indian forces and that hostilities had broken out. The Security Council took notice of it on 16 September in Paris. The representative of Hyderabad called for immediate action by the Security Council under chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. The Hyderabad representative responded to India's excuse for the intervention by pointing out that the Stand-still Agreement between the two countries had expressly provided that nothing in it should give India the right to send in troops to assist in the maintenance of internal order.[13]

At 5 p.m. on 17 September the Nizam surrendered. India then incorporated the state of Hyderabad into the Union of India and ended the rule of the Nizams.[14] The annexation of Hyderabad was generally welcomed by many Hindus in the state, but Muslims emphasized the unlawfulness of the invasion. Some Muslims migrated to Pakistan, mainly to Karachi, which has a sizeable Hyderabadi muhajir community.

On 6 October 1948, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Zafarullah, requested the President of the United Nations' Security Council that Pakistan be permitted to participate in the discussion of the Hyderabad question in accordance with Article 31 of the United Nations' Charter.[15]

Hyderabad became a state of India.

Communal Violence[edit]

The Hyderabad state police and the Razakar Islamic militia (led by MIM party founder Kasim Razvi) put down the armed revolts by Communists and the peasantry, committed atrocities against the Hindu population, and even eliminated Hyderabadi Muslims such as Shoebullah Khan, who advocated merger with India.[16] "To face this challenge from the people, the Nizam encouraged the Razakars to terrorise the Hindus and also to change the communal complexion of the State by forcibly converting Hindus into Islam and inviting Muslims from outside to settle in the State."[16]

"From the beginning of 1948 the Razakars had extended their activities from Hyderabad city into the towns and rural areas, murdering Hindus, abducting women, pillaging houses and fields, and looting non-muslim property in a widespread reign of terror".[17] "Some women became victims of rape and kidnapping by Razakars. Thousands went to jail and braved the cruelties perpetuated by the oppressive administration. Due to the activities of the Razakars, thousands of Hindus had to flee from the state and take shelter in various camps”.[18] Official sources stated that three to five thousand people were killed by the Razakars.[19]

There were reports of looting, mass murder and rape of Muslims in reprisals by Hyderabadi Hindus and Indian Army soldiers.[20][18] Jawaharlal Nehru appointed a mixed-faith committee led by Pandit Sunderlal to investigated the situation. The findings of the report were not disclosed until 2013 when they were made available at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi.[20] The Committee concluded that while Muslims villagers were disarmed by the Indian Army, Hindus were often left with their weapons.[20] It also concluded: "At a number of places members of the armed forces brought out Muslim adult males from villages and towns and massacred them in cold blood."[20] The official "very conservative estimate" was that 27,000 to 40,000 died "during and after the police action".[20] Other scholars have put the figure at 200,000, or even higher.[19]

Districts of Hyderabad State[edit]

Hyderabad state in 1909

Administratively, Hyderabad State was made up of sixteen districts, grouped into four divisions:

Hyderabad state in 1956 (in yellowish green). After reorganization in 1956, Regions of the state west of Red and Blue lines merged with Bombay and Mysore states respectively and rest of the state ( Telangana) was merged with Andhra State to form the state of Andhra Pradesh.


After the incorporation of Hyderabad State into India, M. K. Vellodi was appointed as Chief Minister of the state on 26 January 1950. He was a Senior Civil servant in the Government of India. He administered the state with the help of bureaucrats from Madras state and Bombay state.

In the 1952 Legislative Assembly election, Dr. Burgula Ramakrishna Rao was elected Chief minister of Hyderabad State. During this time there were violent agitations by some Telanganites to send back bureaucrats from Madras state, and to strictly implement 'Mulki-rules'(Local jobs for locals only), which was part of Hyderabad state law since 1919.[21]


Hyderabad State had its last Nizam, HEH Mir Osman Ali Khan (b. 1886 -d. 1967) as Rajpramukh from 26 January 1950 to 31 October 1956.


In 1956 during the Reorganisation of the Indian States based along linguistic lines, the state of Hyderabad was split up among Andhra Pradesh, Bombay state (later divided into states of Maharashtra and Gujarat in 1960 with the original portions of Hyderabad becoming part of the state of Maharashtra) and Karnataka.

In December 1953, the States Reorganization Commission was appointed to prepare for the creation of states on linguistic lines.[22] The commission, due to public demand, recommended disintegration of Hyderabad state and to merge Marathi speaking region, Maratwada, with Bombay state and Kannada speaking region with Mysore state. The Telangana region of Hyderabad state with Andhra state.

Andhra state and Telangana were merged to form Andhra Pradesh state on 1 November 1956 after providing safeguards to Telangana in the form of Gentlemen's agreement (though recently on 2 June 2014, Telangana was separated from Andhra Pradesh as a new 29th state of India, with Hyderabad as its capital.) Gulshanabad Division or Medak Division and Warangal Division were considered as area of Hyderabad's Telangana. However when Hyderabad was merged in Andhra Pradesh state, substantial area of Adilabad (the area between Godavari and Penganga/Wardha/Pranahita rivers) was transferred to Maharashtra state.(refer Hyderabad state map) And later on 2014, the state of Telangana was formed splitting from the rest of Andhra Pradesh region.

State institutions[edit]

Palaces of Hyderabad State era[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tony Jaques (2007). Dictionary of Battles and Sieges: F-O. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-33538-9. 
  2. ^ Pradeep Barua (2005). The State at War in South Asia. U of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-1344-1. 
  3. ^ "Official Website of Indian Army". Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Top ten richest men of all time". inStash. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  6. ^ Time dated 22 February 1937, cover story
  7. ^ "Kaleidoscopic view of Deccan". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 25 August 2009. 
  8. ^ Lucien D. Benichou, From autocracy to integration: political developments in Hyderabad State, 1938-1948 (2000), p. 19
  9. ^ Benichou (2000), p. 229
  10. ^ "The Hyderabad Question". United Nations. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  11. ^ Benichou (2000), p. 230
  12. ^ Benichou (2000), p. 231
  13. ^ United Nations Document S/986
  14. ^ Benichou (2000), p. 232
  15. ^ United Nations Security Council Document S/1031
  16. ^ a b Rao, P.R. "History and Culture of Andhra Pradesh". p.281-282.
  17. ^ Jawaharlal Nehru. Mumbai: Jaico Publishing House. 2007.  [1]
  18. ^ a b Kate, P. V., Marathwada Under the Nizams, 1724-1948, Delhi: Mittal Publications, 1987, p.84
  19. ^ a b Noorani, A.G. (Mar 3–16, 2001). "Of a massacre untold". Frontline 18 (05). Retrieved 8 September 2014. The lowest estimates, even those offered privately by apologists of the military government, came to at least ten times the number of murders with which previously the Razakars were officially accused... 
  20. ^ a b c d e Thomson, Mike (September 24, 2013). "Hyderabad 1948: India's hidden massacre". BBC. Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Mulki agitation in Hyderabad state". Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  22. ^ "SRC submits report". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 1 October 2005. Retrieved 9 October 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 17°00′N 78°50′E / 17.000°N 78.833°E / 17.000; 78.833